4 Examples of Before and After Photo Restorations

4 Examples of Before and After Photo Restorations

Ready for some more before and after photo restoration projects? Our last post featured five gorgeous transformations, and this set is just as impressive. From antique sepia prints to modern reproductions and beyond, we hope this group of images inspires you and your next photo project.

before and after photo restoration

This restoration is interesting due to how it originates. Like most people, our client brought in this faded photo for restoration. Unlike most people, the “before” is not an original. It is a modern RC (resin coated) color print of an original hand tinted brown toned crayon portrait. The client’s faded modern chemistry spent its approximate eight year life span. Clearly, their photo faded and started to shift in tone to a point of no return. 

Mary Lou combined darkroom methods and modern techniques to bring the artwork back to its original intent. The restoration is now a tinted fibre print, just as the original was at the turn of the century. This new print should last over 100 years. Our conservator fitted the new restoration into the frame our client provided, making a beautiful finished piece. One more fun fact, it was a set. We completed both spouses and they are back together again.

It’s fun to work on photos that don’t have people in them, and this had a pretty dramatic restoration. The original photograph was a faded, yellowed and damaged fibre print. It has cracks, holes, missing pieces, and surface damage throughout the image. We were able to eliminate the damage, color correct the photo, and make it vibrant again. Mary Lou was able to improve the sharpness and clarity of the piece to make it a visual stunner. The project also came in with the official military names and distinctions, along with group photos of the veterans. The final artwork is restored and framed for future generations to share the history.

Unfortunately for the owner of this photograph, it was always designed to fade away and fail. It is a studio proof that was left intentionally unstable by the photo studio, in hopes that the family would order quickly.  Unlike most darkroom prints of the time, proofs were not chemically treated to last. When our client brought this photo in, all you could really see if you held it on an angle, were the glasses and tie this young man was wearing. Our client wasn’t sure if anything could be done to it. Mary Lou was able to capture enough original information on the photograph to restore this print into a black and white fibre print. If you find a photo that is severely faded, do not throw it out. There is always hope to save it. Just because the naked eye can’t see it, doesn’t mean a professional can’t bring it back.

Toned fibre prints are timeless, and we see them often in our studio. This photograph faded over time and had superficial damage on the emulsion. What makes this piece interesting is not just the restoration. Using conservation methods, we refit the restored photograph in the original Eastlake Victorian frame and our conservator sealed the original within the fitting. This method of framing both the original and the reproduction together keeps the history intact.

Each photo we receive for restoration contains a nugget of history, a memory, or a story. They are treasures. For more information, visit our guide, Getting Started: Photo Restoration.